Chinese Grand Prix 2013: Lewis Hamilton claims first Mercedes pole
Chinese Grand Prix 2013: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton dominates qualifying in Shanghai to seize pole position and boost his title hopes
Lewis Hamilton staked his claim for a championship push after dominating Chinese Grand Prix qualifying to grab his first Mercedes pole.
The 2008 world champion was on top in all three qualifying sessions, while Australian Grand Prix winner Kimi Raikkonen grabbed second and a fuel-less Mark Webber dropped out of Q2.
The Q1 period started with an eight-minute stand-off as teams waited it out to see who would twist first.
Hamilton guided his Mercedes to a 1:35.793 – with team-mate Nico Rosberg just behind – which neither Red Bull or Ferrari could match.
But Raikkonen would be the most off-pace front-runner after posting a time 1.25 seconds behind the Briton to place him 11th.
And the Finn also found himself in a spot of controversy when Adrian Sutil claimed the Lotus blocked him while on his flying lap.
In Q2, Webber – denied a win in Malaysia after Sebastian Vettel defied team orders – ran out of fuel before he could return to the pits.
Hamilton benefited from pit-wall instructions to secure a podium ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg last time out, but needed no help in qualifying with another blistering time of 1:35.078.
Alongside Webber, both Force Indias and Sergio Perez’s Mclaren missed the cut, while Danny Ricciardo secured Toro Rosso a first Q3 place since Bahrain nearly a year ago.
The seconds ticked down in the final session before the teams shuttled out of the pits with two minutes to go for a straight shoot-out.
And no one could match Hamilton again as a 1:34.484 proved enough to hold off Raikkonen – who shook his early rust off to finish three tenths behind in second.
Rosberg dropped to fourth as Fernando Alonso steamed in to take third on the grid, while Vettel – opting not to post a time to retain a choice of tyres for the race – placed ninth.
Chinese Grand Prix 2013: Starting grid
1. Lewis Hamilton Britain Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 34.484s
2. Kimi Raikkonen Finand Lotus-Renault 1m 34.761s
3. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 34.788s
4. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 34.861s
5. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 34.933s
6. Romain Grosjean France Lotus-Renault 1m 35.364s
7. Daniel Ricciardo Australia Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 35.998s
8. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes 2m 05.673s
9. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault no time Q3
10. Nico Hulkenberg Germany Sauber-Ferrari no time Q3
11. Paul di Resta Britain Force India-Mercedes 1m 36.287s
12. Sergio Perez Mexico McLaren-Mercedes 1m 36.314s
13. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1m 36.405s
14. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1m 36.679s
15. Pastor Maldonado Venezuela Williams-Renault 1m 37.139s
16. Jean-Eric Vergne France Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 37.199s
17. Valtteri Bottas Finland Williams-Renault 1m 37.769s
18. Esteban Gutierrez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari 1m 37.990s
19. Jules Bianchi France Marussia-Cosworth 1m 38.780s
20. Max Chilton Britain Marussia-Cosworth 1m 39.537s
21. Charles Pic France Caterham-Renault 1m 39.614s
22. Giedo van der Garde Holland Caterham-Renault 1m 39.660s